Friday, January 20, 2012

Getting Healthy – Weight Management

 by Dina Sleiman

The scale has never really been my friend. Although a skinny kid, by college I managed to yo-yo diet my way out of juniors sizes. Then in my early twenties, I figured out how to stay reasonably slim and healthy. Which worked fine, even through three pregnancies, until I hit middle age. That’s when something went terribly awry. I would try to use the methods that had kept me thin for years, only to find myself starving, grumpy, and defeated.

From 2008 until 2011, I struggled. Finally I realized the medications I’d been put on for middle-aged health problems like reflux and high cholesterol were the culprits. Long story short, the meds kept my from absorbing the nutrients I needed while simultaneously making me gain weight. When I started noticing some early diabetes symptoms, that was the last straw. With the help of my chiropractor, I came up with a plan to get off the meds and build up my health again.

Now I’m in a new place. And in this place I’m able to lose weight again. It seems the best solution to all my health problems (based largely on the fact that I gain my weight around my belly) is to get thin and stay thin. In fact, short of taking a cocktail of medicines and medicines for my medicines, this is probably the only way for me to live a long and healthy life. So I’ve been revisiting some of those old methods that kept me slim for years, and I thought I’d share them with you today.

Focus on Health: The point is to be healthy—not skinny. As a follower of Christ, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Take care of it because it’s the right thing to do. Take care of it so that you’re in good shape to fulfill God’s plan for your life.

Do the Math: While some fad diets can have merits, in the end it all comes down to simple mathematics. In order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you eat.

Find Something You Love: If you think of exercise as drudgery, you won’t stick with it for long. Find something you enjoy. A group class with friends for the socialite. A team sport for the athlete. A quiet walk for the nature lover. A solitary swim for the recluse. For me it’s walks, bike rides, and dance aerobics in the privacy of my bedroom.

Take it Slow: Weight management needs to be a lifestyle. Make slow, steady changes over a long period of time. Start with positive health changes rather than calorie reducing ones. Try adding one per week.

1)      Drink more water
2)      Add more vegetables to your diet
3)      Add more whole grains to your diet
4)      Add a healthy activity you enjoy
5)      Stop eating after 7pm
6)      Remove trans fats from your diet
7)      Switch to low fat meats and dairy products
8)      Minimize processed sugar in your diet
9)     Minimize processed flour in your diet
10)  Find a healthy calorie count for you and stick with it

In fact, if you try adding steps one through nine over several months, the good news is you might not even need step ten. So remember, focus on health. Take care of yourself. Healthy is beautiful.

Do you have any weight management tips that work for you? Are you already using some of these healthy tips? If you could choose just one healthy lifestyle change to make this year, which one would it be?

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at


  1. I joined Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago and have love 6.4 pounds. This plan helps me eat better, plus I can still have a treat whenever I want. I just have to fit it into my points for the day. Here's to a new year of HEALTHY!

  2. That's awesome, Sherrinda! You go girl. I've lost 10 pounds since August, but I've been stuck here for a while. Still contemplating whether I want to exercise more or eat less. Hmmm.

  3. I just joined a program. With my RA I have to balance it all to not exceed my limitations but I have to keep my joints strong. Keep at it, Dina!

  4. Have you ever heard of "The Cleaner Plate Club"? It's not about eating all your food. It's about making the food you eat clean. We've eliminated nearly all the processed foods in our diet...and it's made a HUGE difference! I, however, have no idea how much I've lost. I made a commitment with God to not weigh myself for this year (it gets to be too much of an obsession for me). I do know, however, that my jeans are fitting better already!

  5. Good for you Carrie. You look lovely, but I'm sure less weight would feel great on your joints. I went back and forth over the last few years wondering if I should just accept this new size and say, "I look fine for a 40 year old mother of three." But when I realized it was hurting my health, enough was enough.

  6. Yes, Susie, we've cut waaayyy down on processed foods too. I've even gotten my littlest child off of poptarts, his favorite snack although I never allowed them for breakfast, and instead he's eating organic cookies with whole grains, rice syrup, and no preservatives. My whole family has been working on eating healthier. We've also way upped our vegetable intake. The teens are into it since one is a dancer and one is an athlete, the little guy not so much.

  7. BTW everyone, I have a healthy veggie recipe being featured right now on Naomi Rawling's blog.

  8. Thanks, Dina. I copied down your list of 10 things as a good reminder for myself. I think you are beautiful as is by the way, but I know what you mean. I know I'd feel better about myself if there was a bit less of me (and I ate more healthy foods.)

  9. Thanks, Julie. Unfortunately the extra weight I do carry is in a very dangerous place. Excess belly fat can cause all sorts of health problems. People who carry weight in their hips, rear, or all over have less to worry about.

    Interestingly, I grew up thinking of a "healthy" weight as more average sized. Which might be true for others. But not in my case.

  10. I wish I could wave a magic wand over my brain and reset my idea of the ideal body. Somehow I ended up with a ballerina ideal and a burlesque reality. That means unless I am right on the border of underweight, I feel uncomfortable and "fluffy." And I also add fluff around the middle.
    I try to eat reasonably healthy and clean. Much better than I used to when I was younger, and exercise 4-6 days a week. Still, after crossing 40 and becoming a g-mama, I've added a few pounds in the last year. It's a constant mental battle, even though my clothes fit and my husband is thrilled with the additional "top" size that returned with those pounds. *sigh* Being comfortable in my own skin is a DREAM I long to see fulfilled.

  11. Good post, Dina. Health is the key. Moderation, exercise, and making smart food choices are important, no matter one's size.

  12. Since last May, I've lost 25lbs through diet alteration and exercise. Only the last two months have been a plateau. Still, my goal is another 25 lbs by September. What matters to me most is having a healthy self-image, which comes by finding one's identity in Christ and learning to see self as God sees us. So losing weight now for me isn't for self-esteem issues. It's because I want to be healthier. I want to go hiking with the kids and not feel like I'm going to barf a lung. Actually, I don't really want to go hiking. But if I did . . . ;-)

    Great post, Dina.

    Oh, one healthy lifestyle change: consistent 30 minutes a day exercising, five days a week.

  13. Yeah, Niki, that sounds like a little too frail for a healthy body image. About 20% body fat is the ideal. And one thing to keep in mind about those ballerinas is that they have great muscle tone. They aren't just skin and bones.

    Although, as I mentioned, watch out for that belly fat. It's the most dangerous

  14. Thanks, Susie. Yep, you can't go wrong with those.

  15. Gina, does that mean you won't get mad the next time I make you go for a three mile walk while chatting :)

    I've actually been good about exercising my whole life. And decent on the healthy eating. But this year I've gone even healthier. And I've almost completely cut white sugar from my diet. I know it still sneaks in through some dressings, but very, very little.

  16. Dina I think we swapped those ten pounds (since August in Philly!)

    I have been doing way too much sitting. I guess if I could walk while I used the keyboard...

    I'm glad you are doing well with healthy eating. I'm trying to, but I don't think anything will happen until I start exercising. no, don't say I... I already have my excuses lined up.

  17. Ugh, Deb, that Philly conference was the biggest I've ever been around the writing set. Oh well. Hope you find some exercise that sparks your fancy.

  18. I've found that when trying to cut down on carbs, eating walnuts, pecans or pistachios really help control my bread craving.

    Great list, Dina.

    Suzie - who really wanted to eat a Pop Tart for breakfast, but resisted the urge!

  19. Yum on the nuts. I've been eating a lot of raw nuts, dry fruits, and whole grain crackers lately. Who needs bread?


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